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News portrait: Martin Dupalo can't afford to fight City Hall

Martin Dupalo can't afford to fight City Hall
Martin Dupalo can't afford to fight City Hall

PORTRAIT BY JEFERSON APPLEGATE

WE’RE CUTTING YOU OFF. NOT YOU, WALMART. YOU, AVERAGE CITIZEN: Liquor. Beer. Wine. Nectar of the gods. Elixir of stupid human tricks, drunk drivers, shattered homes, lost jobs, ill health and homelessness. Las Vegas has been built on a sea of the devil’s brew, and that’s unlikely to change. But one man in East Las Vegas tried to slow it a bit. Martin Dupalo has been in town for 33 years; he’s a former CSN and UNLV political science instructor, has served on citizen boards — and he counts 85 stores selling alcohol in his immediate neighborhood. He blames them for contributing to public drunkenness and, especially, for drunk drivers crashing into cars, houses, churches and other objects in his area.
Recently, he asked the Las Vegas Planning Commission to refuse Walmart’s request to sell liquor at its store at Nellis and Charleston. (The city already has about 700 bars, liquor stores, stores that sell liquor and other establishments at least partially devoted to getting you drunk.) After all, with its newly (if confusingly) enforced open-container laws, the city certainly seems worried about the volume of alcohol sloshing around the East Fremont district, where the tourists are.
He lost, 6-0.
But wait! Dupalo, being a political scientist, knows that democracy means he can appeal the decision to the full City Council! That is, if he’s got $750. That’s what the city charges you to kick an issue from the Planning Commission up to the full council. The fee, the city explains, “is to cover the cost of the public notices that are required to be mailed.” Lesson: The wheels of government only work if you’ve got the grease to keep them moving. Pay to play, baby. Walmart would probably drink to that. LAUNCE RAKE